Archive for Art News

Scott

Big News at the ARTtistics

We’ve added our newest ARTtistic, Joanne Mattera!

Here’s a bit on Joanne:

Joanne Mattera is a studio artist whose focus is lush color and geometric composition, an aesthetic she describes as “lush minimalism.” She has had solo shows in New York City at the Stephen Haller Gallery, where she was a represented artist, and at OK Harris Works of Art, where her second solo with the gallery, “Silk Road,” took place in May 2007. She has also participated in group shows at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery, Thatcher Projects, the Heidi Cho Gallery, and Garson Baker Fine Art.

Read More Here 

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Lenny

Storing and Moving Artwork and WWII Tunnels

“Humboldt Storage and Moving Co. in Canton has been transporting people’s most prized possessions for more than 100 years.

But when the company was asked to make a high-profile, cross-country delivery of a $135 million painting by Austrian artist Gustav Kilmt in 2006, Humboldt CEO Howard Goldman saw a prospective niche in storing, moving and managing fine art collections.”

So it begins an interesting article by A.J. Bauer from the GateHouse News Service.

Mind’s Eye, a division of Humboldt devoted entirely to moving, storing and managing collections of fine art and collectibles is also our sponsor and backer, and a few weeks ago I had the interesting experience of touring their spaces, and personally seeing the spectacular care and attention that they give to the emerging art of … ah… moving and storing art.

We’re all sort of snobs, even if we deny it, and I must admit that I was expecting to find only fine art being stored in custom made, climate controlled, impregnable room-sized walk-in safes.

I found that, but I also found them being used to store rare wines, family heirlooms, collectibles, and of course, blue chip art.

And I think that this is the tip of the iceberg, as more and more people focus their attention on the business of collecting artwork. According to the article, the company already “has plans to build an additional 3,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage vaults within the next three months, and expects an expansion of an additional 32,000 square feet in the next few years.”

In the next few months I hope to relate my own experiences with moving artwork as I continue to do art fairs all over the nation. It’s a fascinating aspect of the new boom of the art fair business, with galleries and private dealers moving artwork all over the world, from fair to fair. This is in fact, a very special and unique slice of the business of moving and storing artwork.

I am also curious to discover more about museums that are running out of storage space, which I think is the case with the various Smithsonian museums in the nation’s capital. As I am led to believe (and maybe this is all urban legend), a lot of this storage takes place in underground chambers under the National Mall in Washington, DC. These chambers apparently were originally built during WWII to store our national treasures in case the Germans or Japanese ever bombed our capital. Perhaps I will do a little digging research in this area to see if it is true and if an interesting story comes out.

More later…

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Admin

Things to do in Canada when you’re dead or have a cat

In Toronto they have really good veggie-dogs that you can buy off of street vendors.

I haven’t been MIA. I’ve been in Canada for the last couple of days. Toronto specifically. Before I even exchanged Washingtons for Queens I started reading artfag, which is now my favorite reading material in all of the art world. Here’s a little excerpt, though you should read it all, and everything else

“Ladies and gentlemen, we realize that the following may not be the best thing for a critic of any stripe (let alone a stripe so platonically ideal as ourselves) to admit, but we are nothing if not truthful; as soon as we received the notice for the “Love/Hate: New Crowned Glory in Toronto,” exhibit at MoCCA, we were prepared to make the full swing to the right of that titular forward slash and hate every bloody inch of it.”

When I read it I had never thought about The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art before, but after reading I began to love/hate it like I would an old college chum whom I’m insanely jealous of. The question for me was; would Toronto live up to such great criticism?  

In many respects the answer was sadly no, but in all fairness the majority of my gallery hopping occurred on Father’s Day and many of the places I attempted to visit were closed. Below I have laid out my Canadian odyssey:

Nancy Davenport’s “Bombardment” (photograph)

 

THE POWER PLANT

Not Quite How I Remember It

Most internet searches and guide books for arts and culture in Toronto, Canada will have you believe that all roads lead towards The Power Plant. It seems like a promising exhibition space for contemporary art, and takes an hour or less to get through. Admission is free for the summer right now. 

The exhibition I attended explored artist’s re-enactments of the past. I enjoyed the “documentary” photographs of Nancy Davenport, but thought the entire show belonged to Diane Borsato’s three channel video installation, which was a recreation of three famous performances; Bonnie Sherk’s Public Lunch, in which the lady sedately eats a meal while ravenous tigers devour raw meat next to her, Joseph Beuys’ Coyote: I like America and America likes me, in which JB isolates himself with some felt and a cane in a room with a coyote, and Maria Abramovic’s Dragonheads, in which the lady sits surrounded by ice and covered in boas and pythons.

Diane Borsato with kitty cat /Joseph Beuys with coyote.

The twist in Borsato’s piece is that all of the bad-ass hard-core parts of the performances (i.e. the snakes, the coyote, and the tigers) are replaced by a kitty cat. My slightly mean reading of this is that artists of today find it impossible to live up to artists of the past, my other reading of this is that it makes the legendary work of Beuys, Sherk, and Abramovic seem more then a little ridiculous. 

“Bitch Killin’ Machine” (photograph) by FASTWURMS.

 

PAUL PETRO SPECIAL PROJECTS

Wild Things

This exhibition was a bit silly. I was happy to be introduced to the work of FASTWURMS, which is the trademark and joint authorship of Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse.

A good interview and flicks of some of their work can be found here

A “gum blonde” by Jason Kronenwald

 

LE GALLERY

A Fresh Pack of Gum Blondes

I was very excited to see these works of Jason Kronenwald; portraits of blondes crafted from gum, until I saw them in person. I discovered that the “paintings” were so covered in acrylic resin that you couldn’t even tell that they were made of gum. If something is made of a food-product I want to see it rot. (Don’t worry Jason, I’m sure I am in the minority with that opinion.)

I tried to visit TPW and  XSPACE and did visit AWOL gallery (if you can’t say something nice. . .). Toronto has many back alley’s (mostly off Queen’s Street) full to the brim with graffiti, and it’s a beautiful city for just walking around. I found many things to appreciate without ever walking into a gallery. 

C’est tout. 

 

 

 

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Lenny

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts scores big Luce Foundation grant

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a $200,000 grant to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for reinstalling and reinterpreting its collection of historical American art – from painting, sculpture and works on paper to the decorative arts of furniture, silver, glass and ceramics.

VMFA is in the midst of a massive expansion project that will add more than 165,000 square feet of space to the existing 320,000-square-foot museum. The expansion, expected to be completed in late 2009, will increase the museum’s gallery space by 50 percent and will cost $130 million.

Brideship (Colonial Brides),
“Brideship (Colonial Brides),” circa 1927-1928, by Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889-1975)

“This pending transformation offers us an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the overall shape, display and interpretation of the museum’s holdings,” says Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s director.

The largest amount of the permanent-collection gallery space in the new wing – approximately 11,200 square feet – will be devoted to the exhibition of VMFA’s current American collection, more than doubling its previous footprint.

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Lenny

I’ll be on NPR next week

Kojo Nnamdi

Next week I’ll be on NPR at the Kojo Nnamdi Show discussing the Greater Washington and general Mid Atlantic area visual arts and artists and art stories.

I do this several times a year and it’s always an adventure, as a lot of times the prepared stuff goes out the window when people call in with questions. Like when someone called a few months ago and entangled me into a discussion about tattoos as an art form.

If you are in range of DC’s WAMU 88.5 FM, then tune in on Thursday, June 26 around noon.

If you have any questions or art issues, you can call Kojo during the show at (800) 433-8850 or you can email him questions to kojo@wamu.org.

And yes, I have two tattoos.

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Bill

Everyday Monuments: The Photographs of Jerome Liebling, at Yale University Art Gallery until September 7

Yale University Art Gallery sometimes hosts exhibitions curated by students, and this is one of them, although I couldn’t find the names of the students involved. Sorry, guys!

As you likely knew, Jerome Liebling is a filmmaker, photographer and teacher. From his website:

While a professor of film and photography at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Liebling began what was to be a longtime collaborative relationship with filmmaker Allen Downs; over the following two decades, they produced several award-winning documentaries, including Pow Wow, The Tree is Dead, and The Old Men.

The only film to which I could find substantial external reference was Pow Wow, which is described on Boston Public Library’s website thusly:

Using concealed telephoto lenses, the University of Minnesota band is photographed while rehearsing. They wheel and careen to form the figures which look so effective on the playing field, but are more like a Mack Sennett comedy at close range. A film by Allen Downs and Jerome Liebling.

That, and the fact that successful documentary filmmakers such as Ken Burns have trained under Professor Liebling, suggests an interest in documenting and re-contextualizing events. It’s interesting how this interest can be seen in the images selected here.

The photographs in this exhibition seem to provide an overview of Liebling’s work, a sampler of sorts. If memory serves, they’re not arranged chronologically or by subject. As for any continuity that bridges the five decades covered in forty-plus images, the handout suggests an emphasis on surface, in a single paragraph that borders on artspeak gobbletygook. For example:

Although grounded in tactility, the rawness of Liebling’s photographs departs from mere physicality and begins to reveal the more intangible underpinnings of his artistic endeavor. As Liebling depicts (a variety of subjects), he reframes surfaces as creative spaces that reveal the range of human productivity and the depths of the human capacity for creativity itself.

The illusion of tactility is present here in abundance, but all rawness is subsumed, in my opinion, by the artist’s masterful technique and his obviously very careful selectivity. All images are plumb, posed, and, in the case of photographs documenting the homes of famous New Englanders such as Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson, they’re dusted, polished and ready for ticket-holders. As for reframing surfaces as creative spaces that reveal the range of human productivity, I suspect it may be the caffeine talking.

What interested me most about this show is the way that many images either echo or prefigure various personalities and developments in the popular and fine art of 20th century America.

The children in Liebling’s photographs from the 1940’s are well-dressed and well cared for, and remind me of Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” comedies from the 30’s and Hummel figurines, those made-in-Germany decorations common to American homes of the time.

Jerome Liebling, Butterfly Boy

Jerome Liebling, Butterfly Boy, New York City, 1949, from the artist’s website

Butterfly Boy, New York City, is adorable in every which-a-way. I want to give this dapper guy an ice cream, tell him a funny joke and make him laugh. If there’s any hint of the intricacies of growing up in the city, perhaps it’s his coat ‘wings,’ extended as if to try them out for the first time; they’re more bat than butterfly, and portend adolescent dives through the glow of streetlamps.

Some relationships between Liebling’s work and American painting are glaring. The subject of Miner’s Wife, Hibbing, Minnesota, from 1983, sits perfectly within the wooden frame of a screen door, her every feature flattened by the worn screen into a Grant Wood painting. The image seeks a worker’s socialist revival, but the woman’s expression betrays the realization that this is not forthcoming. Morning, Monessen, Pennsylvania, out-Hoppers Hopper. The shirtless Counselor, Camp Taconic, Hinsdale, Massachusetts, photographed in 1980, is an image worthy of Paul Cadmus, complete with erotic undertones.

These similarities come off almost as homage, and strike me as an interesting counterpoint to Post-Modern appropriation, particularly its photographic incarnation with its attendant cynicism, that drove the previous story of art to its end. Clearly this is a body of work that maintains a faith of pictures, and this, for me, is the one point of continuity that rides effortlessly through the five decades shown.

In spite of the exhibition’s title, Liebling’s photography, at least as represented here, hardly monumentalizes the everyday. But, much more in keeping with its small scale, this work is quiet, masterfully self-assured, and, at its best, like the small barn in Barn, Foliage, Hadley, Massachusetts, it casts a long and interesting shadow.

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Admin

A TOUR OF PHILLY II

 

Starting with the South Philly Biennial and heading north. 

This is part 2, start at part 1

Nate Ross and Don Thompson’s interactive landscape painting on view at The South Philly Biennial. 

 

Before I move farther north, it occurs to me that I ought to talk about a commercial space that has done just as much for the life of Philly then any of the non-commercial ones, that is Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. They host an annual group show of emerging Philadelphia artists and often end up representing or at the very least showing some of them. They have done a bang-up job of showing more class then (most) the rest of us (and certainly more class then I), under the direction of William Pym and I have every reason to believe that when Amy Adams (who is currently the director of Vox Populi) takes over things will keep moving along swimmingly. 

 

While on the subject of commercial spaces and because it’s next on my list anyways, let’s talk about Jenny Jaskey Gallery, located in Northern Liberties, an area of Philly best compared to Williamsburg in New York because of the fast and hip way it is being developed. Jaskey has recently filled a niche in Philadelphia that was really needed; a new commercial space committed to the area that isn’t afraid to take a chance. 

A detail of the landscape by Nate Ross and Don Thompson.

 

At the tip of the new northern development is the Crane Building, which is a vast warehouse of artist studios and galleries. I am almost afraid to mention it because it is a “one-stop-shopping” type of place, and the ease of it may discourage you from trekking the Philly streets to search out the harder to find (but I admit; not always better or even friendlier) art habitats. The Crane’s massive Ice Box Gallery has hosted some of the most ambitious exhibitions in Philly and there is always a worthwhile show at the non-profit Nexus

Past the Crane it gets a little harder to find a good place to eat and the real estate prices dive a tiny bit, but we’ll head north anyways because there are still some great things to see:

A recent Howard Kleger installation at The Institute. 

The Philadelphia Institute for Advanced Study (pifas), might be the hardest place, besides maybe Copy, to visit when there isn’t an event happening. While we’re on the subject, even though art happens there and artists have their studios there, I’m not sure that you can properly describe The Institute as an art space. They have seminars and lectures and workshops and language clubs. They have a tiny gallery called GUS.

Farther away then anything else, to the point where even I get lazy, is FluxSpace, a space most famous for having an amazing Oliver Herring exhibition. I suggest that anyone in town for the day try to make it out there, perhaps because they are so very far away, they are very friendly about setting up an appointment for you and every time I have gone out there it has been worthwhile.

There is more that I forgot to mention that I may have time for some other day. For instance, I have not even attempted to talk about the West; populated predominately by The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Institute of Contemporary Art, The Esther M. Klein Gallery, and The Slought Foundation. I also forgot to mention a space called Little Berlin, that I will no doubt review often, but I’m tried now so let’s break for lunch shall we? 

Anyone actually interested in visiting any of these spaces can certainly contact me, Annette Monnier at annettemonnier@gmail.com, and maybe I can help set up some kind of tour. 

The End.

 

 

 

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A TOUR OF PHILLY (in two parts)

Starting with the South Philly Biennial and heading north.

Though it took up no more then a parking lot roughly the size of one-third a football field (if that) and I’m not sure if it can yet properly be called a biennial, this being the first and possibly last year of it’s existence, the “South Philly Biennial” seems about as good event as any to stop and reflect a little on the myriad of players in Philadelphia’s art scene. I’m going to be writing about the shows I see in many of these tiny and often hard to find alternative spaces, or smaller commercial exhibition spaces, so I thought it might be a good idea to give you some background. . . as often times with art, the location of the show and the people who made it possible are overlooked. 

The blog for the event, is a very good place to start, as I’m guessing Athena Barat (the biennial’s organizer), wrote nice little summaries about many of the groups involved. Through it you can become intimate with legendary Philadelphia art-bloggers Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof, who were both given awards at the biennial for “helping art grow”.  Libby and Roberta seem to get to just about every show in Philadelphia, always check artblog before a trip into the City of Brotherly Love, or you might miss something you would rather not. 

Libby Rosof and Roberta Fallon receive an award from Athena Barat. 

One of the only actual “South Philly” spaces represented at the biennial was Bobo’s on 9th, a gallery that is also a band formed of Nick Payne, Phil Cote, and Drew Gillespie. Bobo’s has some really wild shows that often involved outsider-looking drawings, neon colors, and tape. Famously, one of the gallery’s window displays, that involved photo-copied money, was confiscated by some government officials. My favorite part of the exhibition space is the fact that they change the floor covering for every show (one month it might be covered in cardboard, a rug, fake stone, etc.). Reading their biennial page I have become aware that the spaces’ founders are orchestrating something for Foxy Productions (New York) in July, so you might be hearing more on them. 

Moving North, I’d like to introduce you to two of the cities longest-running artist-run spaces, and by their very obvious differences open your awareness of just some of the differing paradigms artists work under these days:

Space1026 constructs a structure for Locally Localized Gravity at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

Space 1026, Located at 1026 Arch Street, in what is pretty much the southern tip of Philadelphia’s “China Town” neighborhood, has been around for ten plus years now. They are a huge force in Philly, summoning large amounts of energy from their ever rotating and large mass of members, which at Space basically means a person who rents a studio at 1026 Arch Street, or anyone who would like to donate their time. Screen-printing is the thing at Space 1026 and I like to imagine that years from now I will see someone on Antiques Roadshow announcing that “the prints they have were made in Space1026 an artist collective in”. . . because there is certainly a “Space-look” to most of the work made there, and much of it deserves to have it’s little place cut into history. Famouser Spacers include Andrew Jeffery Wright, Jim Houser, Thom Lessner. . .  (I could go on but just check the website, if I try to name everyone someone will get upset with me). 

In direct contrast to the paint-splattered DIY floors of Space1026 stands the white-walled Vox Populi, an artist-run for-really and legally non-profit with board members and everything. Vox currently resides on the 3rd floor of 319 N. 11th St, on the northern tip of China Town, not more then a five-minute walk from Space1026. Vox Populi has been around for 20 years (not all of them in the same location), like space it has an ever-rotating cast of artists, but the artists at Vox seem more geared toward conceptual thinking and the experience of an exhibition at Vox is usually more cerebral then visual. You will never be able to say that the artists of Vox Populi all make a similar product, use a similar medium, or even have the same underlying ideology. 

Next to Vox, on the same floor, in the same building, is a little space I help to run called Copy. Copy can be loosely described as an experiment in trying to figure out what art means today, each month is curated by a different member. Copy is in the same location as the first gallery I was ever a part of, Black Floor. When we changed the name and ended the first venture, we simply made the space smaller and sanded off the black paint. 

Luren Jenison and Jamie Dillon sand away Black Floor to make Copy.

There’s still more to come, so look for part two of my little tour tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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Trenton Doyle Hancock at the ICA, Philadelphia

 

Trenton Doyle Hancock, \

“Go Vegan” (detail) by Trenton Doyle Hancock

 

Trenton Doyle Hancock

Wow That’s Mean and Other Vegan Cuisine

Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

April 25-August 3, 2008

A solid two-thirds of me thinks the Trenton Doyle Hancock exhibition at the ICA is pretty funny, while one-third of me is mildly insulted. That one-third of me is interfering with the pleasure I should have at seeing Trenton’s glow-in-the-dark and 3-D wallpaper that adheres to the wall of the ICA’s ramp space and begins to wonder if I should be that interested in art that seems like a massive inside joke that’s gone on for far too long (ten years now. . .). You see, TDH has been developing a body of work around a self-made mythology that evolved from an argument he had with his very vegan roommates back in graduate art school. I guess these roommates were pretty militant about their veganism and gave TDH a hard time so he started an “epic tale of mortal struggle between the Mounds, a gentle human-plant hybrid, and their inbred half-cousins, the evil mutant-ape Vegans.” (from the ICA’s Gallery Notes). 

Detail of TDH’s wallpaper “Flower Bed II: A Prelude to Damnation”

The reason I’m kind of mad is I’m a vegan (for those of you unfamiliar with the term, this is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat any products produced from an animal, including eggs, cheese, etc.). I’m not a very good one (like, I took a “break” yesterday and ate some ice cream) and I don’t try to convince others to become a vegan or preach about how “evil” animal products are, but I am what I call a “lazy vegan”. I have been one for five plus years, and I plan to try to remain one. I can’t help thinking that although I like TDH’s hand-style and some of the drawings look cool, and a connect-four game and an Atari system is set up for playing in the gallery, and you get a free-pair of 3-D glasses to look at TDH’s wallpaper with. . . that Trenton Doyle Hancock is making fun of me. When someone is making fun of you it is very hard to like them.

I have been insulted and yelled at by people who eat meat and dairy many times in my life, being a vegetarian in High School was especially not easy, but I didn’t vilianize meat-eaters, creating grotesque caricatures of them. I understand that what lead Trenton to this path were no-doubt some terribly idealistic extreme young vegans, I have met such people and they can be scary, but they are no scarier then the occasional meat-eater that won’t leave you alone about being a vegetarian. Most of these extremists mellow-out with age and realize that people’s personal diets are really not all that important.  

So I have to end this review with some advice to Trenton Doyle Hancock: 

Trenton, everyone seems to really like this body of work and you obviously have talent and some great ideas, but to me, someone who actually enjoys being a vegan with occasional lapses (hey, I’m only human and very lazy) it sort of is the visual equivalent to a hate crime. I want to like you and your art but I cannot. Hate is ugly. So my advice to you is to forgive and forget and move on. You could be WAY better then this. 


 

 

 

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Bill

Erik Nordenankar’s “Self-Portrait” — the world’s biggest drawing

Erik Nordenankar's "Self-Portrait"

From Erik Nordenankar’s website, “Biggest Drawing in the World”:

With the help of a GPS device and DHL, I have drawn a self portrait on our planet. My pen was a briefcase containing the GPS device. Being sent around the world, the paths the briefcase took around the globe became the strokes of the drawing.

Fascinating to me that this drawing exists only as a list of geographical coordinates which are the reflection of an arbitrarily developed means for using the Earth. It’s possible only because of mankind’s ceaseless need to conquer terrain, using a process that, not coincidentally, I suspect, began with a simple mark drawn with a finger in the dust.

The first question that comes to my mind is this: Was this trip really necessary? Couldn’t Mr. Nordenankar have simply traced out this drawing on a map and called it a day?

Further, what is our assurance that this trip ever took place? Isn’t every component subject to counterfeiting, from the DHL slips right down to DHL’s database?

How different — and how much more significant — is Nordenankar’s self-portrait from a drawing I might create with a laser pointer from star to star in the night sky?

For me these questions don’t denigrate The World’s Biggest Drawing at all, in fact they deepen my experience of it. There’s a “Greatest Show on Earth” aspect to it that almost demands that deception play a part, the entertainment value of which might be blown out to puffy-haired sequin-suited bombasticity by a David Copperfield, a David Blaine, or any other given deceiver/entertainer. Yet, like most art pieces of its ilk, it comes freeze-dried, with plain-lettered explanations and the plainest possible layout.

This in spite of the name — The World’s Biggest Drawing — which has Vegas written all over it. I want to see this presented on five acres of digital screen in front of the Bellagio, with Wayne Newton singing tribute, and a gift shop offering T-shirts, sweatshirts, ball caps and signed prints in limited editions of 500,000.

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